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Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE with S Pen
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE review: Pretty, but underpowered

Does Samsung's mid-range slate pack enough of a productivity punch to take on the Apple iPad Air?
By

Published onDecember 12, 2023

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE is an attractive tablet that has a good screen, solid software, and S Pen power, though it's held back by an older processor and other questionable spec choices for the 5G model. If you're buying one, the Wi-Fi version is the more sensible choice.

What we like

Premium design
Excellent battery life
S Pen included
Powerful productivity software
Good speakers

What we don't like

Performance sluggish on 5G model
5G model has limited RAM/storage
Cameras only so-so
Display only 60Hz
No hardware-based biometric security

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE is an attractive tablet that has a good screen, solid software, and S Pen power, though it's held back by an older processor and other questionable spec choices for the 5G model. If you're buying one, the Wi-Fi version is the more sensible choice.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 FE is a watered-down version of the Galaxy Tab S7 tablet, meaning it’s a mid-range device meant to be appealing and affordable. It attempts to balance the form-vs-function equation in a way that few other tablets at this price point can, making it a potential ideal buy for those who need to work as hard as they play. Find out if this tablet fits your needs in the Android Authority Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE review.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
See price at Amazon
Save $130.99
256GB
MSRP: $529.99
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A newer version of this device is now available. The Galaxy Tab S9 FE is more compact but offers a quicker display, a more powerful chipset, and a host of additional upgrades at a lower launch price.
About this Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE review: I tested the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE (5G) over a period of five days. It was running Android 11 with Samsung One UI 3.1 on the May 2021 security patch. It has since been updated to Android 12 and OneUI 4. The unit was provided by Samsung for this review.

Update, December 2023: We’ve updated our Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE review with the latest software details and new competition.

What you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE standing with keyboard
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE (4GB/64GB): $479.99
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE (6GB/128GB): $499.99
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE (6GB/256GB): $599.99
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE with 5G (4GB/64GB): $669.99

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE (“Fan Edition”) sits in the middle of Samsung’s tablet roster, between the less-expensive Galaxy Tab A series and the full-blown Galaxy Tab S line. It dials back the feature list of the Galaxy Tab S7 tablets while keeping fan favorites, such as the design and large screen, to reach a lower price point. The idea is to offer most of the Tab S7 experience in a more affordable piece of hardware. While it does that, Samsung has since released its 2022 flagship Galaxy Tab S8 series and 2023 Galaxy Tab S9 series tablets and thus dropped the prices of the aging Tab S7 and the Tab S7 FE slates, with the latter now starting at $479 (previously $529). The Galaxy Tab S9 FE, an upgrade of the Galaxy Tab S7 FE, is now also available.

Samsung’s Tab S7 FE competes most directly with the Apple iPad Air line of tablets. Similar to how Apple has structured its lineup, Samsung now has affordable, mid-range, and high-end tablets for different sets of buyers. The Tab S7 FE is for those who want more productivity capabilities rather than a simple slate for slacking off. Case in point, unlike many tablets, both budget and premium, the Galaxy Tab S7 FE comes with Samsung’s signature S Pen stylus included in the box.

Samsung is selling four versions of the Galaxy Tab S7 FE. There’s an entry-level model with just 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and pricier 6GB/128GB and 6GB/256GB options. There’s also the 5G version we tested for review that (inexplicably) ships only with the lower 4GB/64GB storage capacity. The 5G model supports AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and UScellular service in the US and select carriers overseas. The tablet also comes in four colors: Mystic Black, Mystic Silver, Mystic Pink, and Mystic Green. The 5G variant is only available in Mystic Black. Storage and color options vary widely by country, so check that you’re getting the model you want before you spend your cash.

Does the Tab S7 FE make sense for you given the newer market entrants? Let’s dig in.

How is the hardware?

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE rear panel with S Pen
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

In a word, impeccable. Samsung knows how to create compelling hardware and has done so again with the Galaxy Tab S7 FE.

This tablet isn’t for the faint of heart. It adopts the larger form factor of the Tab S7 (and S8) Plus, which means a 12.4-inch screen rather than the smaller 11-inch screen of the standard Tab S7/S8. It’s a platter-like aluminum slab that’s more rectangular than square, thanks to the 16:10 aspect ratio of the screen. It measures 284.8 x 185 x 6.3mm and weighs in at 608g — making it incredibly thin and light.

Like the competing Apple iPad Air, it has flat glass on the front and flat metal side edges that form sharp angles. The quality of the materials and assembly is, as expected, top-notch. The black color of our 5G test unit looks sophisticated and sleek, despite its size.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE laying at an angle
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Samsung quite clearly intends people to use the tablet in the landscape orientation. With that in mind, the placement of the controls, ports, and other functional elements makes sense. The power button and volume toggle are positioned next to one another and have excellent profiles, travel, and feedback. We wish the power button doubled as a fingerprint reader, but it doesn’t. You have a USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port on one side and a microSD/SIM card slot. The central user-facing camera for video chats and software-based face ID security is placed properly in the bezel centered above the screen (rather than on the side, like on the iPad). The fact that there’s no hardware-based biometric security whatsoever is a notable omission.

AKG-tuned Dolby Atmos stereo speakers flank the sides and provide excellent sound. The speakers generate clean audio with a solid range that doesn’t distort at high volumes. It’s easy to fill a room with music should you wish, and the Galaxy Tab S7 FE makes for an enjoyable piece of hardware for watching video. Bluetooth codec support is also solid, which is good because there’s no headphone jack — it’s wired USB-C or wireless headphones only.

Pogo pins on the bottom edge of the tablet allow it to connect directly to the Samsung-made folio keyboard (sold separately) without the need for Bluetooth.

The Tab S7 FE is a formidable and functional machine that impresses all the way around.

Like the pricier Tab S7 and S8 Plus, the S7 FE has a dedicated magnetic patch on the rear for the S Pen stylus. It’s not the most elegant solution I’ve seen, but it allows you to cart the S Pen around attached to the tablet while it charges simultaneously. It can still be jarred loose in your bag. The S Pen is nearly the size of a standard pen and is comfortable to hold and use on the screen.

In sum, the Tab S7 FE is a formidable and functional machine that impresses all the way around.

What’s the LCD display like?

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE display with home screen
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Like the Tab S7 Plus display, the Tab S7 FE’s screen measures 12.4 inches across the diagonal, packs in an impressive 2,550 x 1,600 pixels, and is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. It’s incredibly sharp, offering more than enough resolution for reading small text or editing photos. The 16:10 aspect ratio is better than 16:9, giving the tablet a little more vertical space when used in landscape orientation.

However, Samsung took two significant cost-cutting steps involving the screen of the Tab S7 FE. Samsung swapped out the Tab S7 Plus’s AMOLED panel for an LCD screen on the Tab S7 FE, which impacts contrast and brightness to a degree. It’s still a punchy screen, but it’s not as dynamic as a Samsung AMOLED would be. The Tab S7 FE also loses the Tab S7 series’ 120Hz refresh rate. It is instead locked at the standard 60Hz rate. You’ll notice this most when scrolling through your social feeds, such as Twitter, or scanning up and down websites. It’s not as smooth as it could be.

This isn’t to say the display experience of the Tab S7 FE is bad. You won’t miss these features if you’ve never played with the pricier tablet. Most buyers will be happy with the vast real estate and high resolution the Tab S7 FE provides. And in our time with the tablet, we found it an excellent companion for media and work.

Does the battery last all day?

Heck yeah, it does. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE packs a 10,090mAh battery, pushing the tablet through more than 12 hours of screen-on time. Remember, that’s with the screen set to auto-brightness and the 5G radio turned on. You could certainly achieve a bit more if you tweak the settings. We were very pleased with the S7 FE’s battery life, which easily outlasted the Apple iPad Air’s screen-on time of just 10 hours. As far as battery life is concerned, the Tab S7 FE is a winner. It also outlasts the new Tab S8 Plus, which had a screen-on time of nine hours.

When charging the tablet, you get what you pay for. The device ships with a standard 15W charger (not a given for Samsung products), though the tablet supports rapid charging up to 45W. If you want to charge the tablet faster, you must buy the faster charger yourself. The included charger took 3.5 hours to charge the S7 FE from zero to full. That’s a full hour longer than the iPad Air, but around the same time as the Galaxy Tab S7 series proper. We didn’t test it, but the optional 45W charger would surely power up the tablet faster.

What’s performance like?

Samsung downgraded the Tab S7 FE’s processor compared to the Tab S7 and S7 Plus — an expected move that helps shave a few more dollars from the cost of the device. But the story isn’t quite that simple.

Without getting too thick into the weeds, here’s the deal. There are two variants of the S7 FE: the 5G model and the Wi-Fi model. The 5G model relies on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G processor (the one we tested), and the Wi-Fi model relies on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G processor. The Snapdragon 778G is a newer chip with updated Arm cores, a newer GPU, and other improvements compared to the Snapdragon 750G. Based on the raw specs and comparison benchmarks with other Snapdragon 778G devices, we’re confident that the Wi-Fi model, with its better spec’d processor, will deliver better overall performance than the 5G model. However, we’ve not been able to test that for ourselves.

Does it matter? Yep. The Snapdragon 750G of the 5G model sometimes struggles to pull its weight. Together with the limited 4GB of RAM, the Tab S7 FE performed well at simple tasks, such as browsing in a couple of Chrome tabs, but pushing the tab count to 10 or more slowed the tablet down. Moreover, multitasking — running two or three apps on the screen simultaneously — was tedious thanks to longer loading times and sluggish response to touch input. Productivity apps such as Google Docs or Microsoft Outlook ran great when running solo. Some graphics-intense games, meanwhile, were slightly jittery.

Benchmark tests showcased the limitations of the 750G processor. In particular, the 1,107 Wild Life test score on 3DMark trailed 83% of devices in the database. The Tab S7 FE tanked in our homegrown Speed Test G benchmark, scoring a lowly two minutes and 48 seconds — about the same as Google’s budget Pixel 4a phone.

When you're focusing on one takes or app at a time the S7 FE does just fine.

When focusing on one task at a time, the S7 FE does just fine. However, when you increase the number of tabs, tasks, or apps, the 2020-era processor starts to show its age. The 5G model of this tablet isn’t nearly as quick as the Snapdragon 865 Plus-powered Tab S7 or Tab S7 Plus. And it can’t hold a candle to the performance of the Apple iPad Air (2020) with its custom A14 Bionic silicon, which smokes it, let alone the M1-powered variant released in 2022. To reiterate this point, we can’t understate how much better the iPad Air is now and will forever be in terms of raw performance when compared to the Tab S7 FE.

As for the 5G service, the Tab S7 FE handles the sub-6GHz mid-band spectrum. That means it works exceedingly well on T-Mobile’s service in the US, which banks on the mid-band airwaves. I saw good 5G browsing speeds when out and about. The Tab S7 FE does not support the speedier mmWave flavor of 5G, which AT&T and Verizon rely on for their fastest service. 5G support across the UK and the rest of the EU will vary.

Last, the Tab S7 FE 5G model is limited to Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5, which prevents it from accessing the best Wi-Fi and most stable Bluetooth available. We would have liked to see Wi-Fi 6 on board, if not Wi-Fi 6E, for future-proofing. Yet, in another baffling turn, the Galaxy Tab S7 FE’s Wi-Fi model supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. This is just a mess, Samsung.

Is the software any good?

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE One UI home screen
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Galaxy Tab S7 FE launched on Android 11 with One UI 3.1 on top. We liked this generation of One UI, though some might qualify it as heavy-handed. There was plenty of room to customize your experience, and there wasn’t too much bloatware. Samsung says the Tab S7 FE will receive the same four system-level updates and five years of security updates as its phones, which is very welcome. In mid-2023, the tablet was bumped to Android 13-based One UI 5 in some regions. Samsung has yet to release the One UI 6 update to the slate just yet, but you can expect it to land in the near future.

The app experience on Android tablets isn’t always the best. Not enough developers take the time to adjust their apps for the larger, wider displays of tablets, and it shows. Some apps will default to a portrait-only orientation even when using the tablet in landscape mode, while others will have weird or unfilled spaces when forced to render sideways. It’s uneven at best. Of course, this is endemic to all Android tablets, not just the Tab S7 FE.

For the productivity-minded, Samsung Dex is on board. This user interface skin overhauls the tablet’s home screen to look more like a Chrome machine’s desktop. It’s good enough at what it does and is easy to launch thanks to a dedicated button on Samsung’s (optional) keyboard accessory. It’s much easier to run multiple apps simultaneously in Dex mode, as apps behave more like they do on a PC via moveable windows. Dex mode does take a few seconds to open and close, however, it gets old after a while.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE One UI S Pen tools
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The included S Pen stylus interacts well with everything on the screen. There are also some dedicated S Pen apps, such as Samsung Notes, Penup, Noteshelf, and Canva. These all work well, though the Notes app is the most powerful. The Air Command function turns on automatically when you bring the stylus near the display, and it’s a breeze to tap into any of the S Pen-optimized apps. It’s a shame the device’s performance problems hold back the overall usability of the S Pen, as any intensive image editing or multitasking will quickly slow the tablet down.

Anything else?

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE keyboard closeup
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Cameras: Samsung downgraded the cameras between the Tab S7 series and the Tab S7 FE, which isn’t all that surprising. You’ll get usable results from the rear 8MP camera in good lighting and noisy shots in poor lighting. The user-facing 5MP shooter is arguably more important because it pulls double duty for video calls. Video quality is somewhat limited in terms of dynamic range and color. The cameras do the job in a pinch, but don’t expect them to replace your smartphone.
  • Keyboard Cover: It’s important to keep a tablet’s screen protected and a good keyboard case ups the productivity clout of a tablet. For the price, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE Keyboard Cover ($169) isn’t bad. The keys are well-spaced and have solid feedback. A number and function key row contains dedicated shortcuts to screen brightness, volume, Dex, and more. There’s no touchpad, however, which may disappoint some. The keyboard is only able to stand at a single, unadjustable angle. On a more positive note, the Keyboard Cover has a dedicated, protected spot for the S Pen, which is very handy.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE specs

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
Display
12.4-inch TFT LCD
2,560 × 1,600 (WQXGA)
Processor
5G: Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G
Wi-Fi: Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G
Memory/Storage
4GB/64GB
6GB/128GB, 256GB
MicroSD supported to 1TB
Battery
10,090mAh
45Wh fast charging supported
Cameras
Rear: 8MP, AF
Front: 5MP
Video: 1080p @ 30fps
Connectivity
5G/LTE
Wi-Fi 5
Bluetooth 5
Type C USB 3.2 Gen1 (DP Output)
GPS/GLONASS
Dimensions
284.8 x 185.0 x 6.3mm
Weight
608g
Colors
Mystic Black, Mystic Silver, Mystic Green, Mystic Pink

Value and competition

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FESamsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
Premium design • Excellent battery life • Good speakers
MSRP: $529.99
Does Samsung's mid-range slate pack enough of a productivity punch to take on the Apple iPad Air?
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE is an attractive tablet that has a good screen, solid software, and S Pen power. A large 12.4-inch display brings your content to life, making it a great tablet for study time or for a quick entertainment break.
See price at Amazon
Save $130.99
256GB

The whole point of Samsung’s Fan Edition models is to improve the value equation of their more expensive siblings; start with a full version of something popular, swap out a few specs and/or features, and offer it at a lower price while keeping the essentials intact. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE mostly succeeded, though it lost a little something along the way — particularly the 5G model.

Now that the Galaxy Tab S8 and S9 tablets are available, the Wi-Fi-only versions of the older Tab S7 tablets have gone away. The 5G variants are still for sale, but at considerable cost. Taken together with the base Tab S7 FE’s price drop to $479 (was $529), this changes the value proposition of the FE model somewhat within Samsung’s tablet lineup. Just make sure you get the superior Wi-Fi version.

If you want a Tab S7 FE, ignore the 5G model and go with the cheaper Wi-Fi model.

The tablet’s first in-house competitor is the Galaxy Tab S9 FE ($449 at Amazon) and Tab S9 FE Plus ($599 at Amazon). The base model is substantially smaller than the equivalent Galaxy Tab S7 FE, with a more minute battery and screen. However, the newer slate packs a 90Hz screen, faster chipset, and a host of upgrades to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and more. If you want a larger display, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is the model to go for.

If you’re craving something more premium, the 11-inch Galaxy Tab S8 ($629.99 at Samsung) still makes sense. Yes, it’s not the latest slate, and yes, it is smaller, but it packs all the performance of the Tab S8 Plus ($549.99 at Amazon) in a more compact package. It’s a shame there’s a sizeable price differential between the Galaxy S7 FE and the Galaxy S8. If you need the most raw power available but don’t mind stepping the screen size down, the Galaxy Tab S8 is a good place to start despite the price jump.

If the Galaxy Tab S7 FE is too much tablet for you and you don’t need the large screen or the productivity tools, you may be better off with a simpler slate, such as the Galaxy Tab A8 ($179.99 at Amazon). This dials back the screen size, processor, battery, and camera but delivers great everyday utility.

If big Android tablets are your jam, you have another option in the Lenovo Yoga Tab 13 ($679.99 at Lenovo). This massive tablet runs on a Snapdragon 870 processor and has more RAM and storage as standard. You also can’t go wrong with a built-in kickstand and hook for hanging. It’s a great tablet. We also liked the Lenovo P12 Pro ($692 at Amazon), which, when combined with a keyboard accessory, is very powerful — though it’s a bit more expensive.

Then there’s the biggest name in the game: Apple, and the iPad Air (2022) ($399 at Amazon). It costs a bit more than the Tab S7 FE, and it is limited in size to just 10.9 inches. The iPad Air, however, handily beats the Tab S7 FE in performance and software support. The new Air’s Apple-designed M1 processor is top-notch and can handle even the most intense apps without slowing down. Moreover, Apple has convinced more developers to create iPad-specific versions of their apps. This improves the day-to-day experience of using the iPad. But, you know, iPadOS. Apple’s platform isn’t for everyone and there’s something to be said for sticking with Android if that’s what your phone runs. Still, the latest iPad Air is worth that extra $120 over the reduced price of the Tab S7 FE.

Last, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that you could snag a Microsoft Surface Go 3 ($649 at Amazon), which is a 10.5-inch laptop/tablet hybrid running Windows 11 with 4GB of RAM, 62GB of storage, and either an Intel Pentium or Core i3 processor. Add-ons raise the price quickly, but you have full Windows on deck in a compact form factor.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE review: The verdict

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE Chrome with AA
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

With the Galaxy Tab S7 FE, Samsung is trying to have its cake and eat it too. This tablet banks on the raw appeal of the refined hardware and large screen to sell the idea of productivity. At the same time, Samsung cut a little too deeply when trimming back the specs, which hurts the Tab S7 FE where it matters most: performance.

Samsung’s mid-range tablet is a gorgeous metal and glass slab that covers most of its bases well. The chassis and display are excellent, the software and included S Pen are powerful, and the battery life is near the best in the business. The speakers pack a punch, and the Tab S7 FE is great for catching a movie on Netflix.

With the Galaxy Tab S7 FE, Samsung is trying to have its cake and eat it too.

Yet, the 5G model we tested fell short in a few areas, such as sluggish apps, which impacted multitasking, and mediocre cameras. The performance of the Snapdragon 750G, in particular, is disappointing and may slow down over time. More importantly, some competing tablets simply provide more bang for the buck — especially the iPad Air (2022), Samsung’s own Galaxy Tab S8, or its direct successor, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE line.

If you’ve got your heart set on the Galaxy Tab S7 FE’s larger screen size, it’s clear most buyers will be best served by the Wi-Fi version, which promises greater performance and future-proofed connectivity (if you don’t need 5G) at a cheaper price. For our money, the $499 Wi-Fi model with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is the most economical and sensible choice. But now that the Galaxy Tab S9 FE series is available, it might be a good idea to disregard the Tab S7 FE completely.

Top Galaxy Tab S7 FE questions and answers

The Galaxy Tab S7 FE is a cheaper version of the Galaxy Tab S7. The Galaxy Tab S7 FE has a larger display but a weaker processor.

In our experience, the Galaxy Tab S7 FE can last for more than 12 hours of screen on time before requiring a recharge.

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